Northwestern (Minn.) runs out of steam against St. Scholastica

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ST. PAUL – The University of Northwestern had a 14-0 lead on Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) foe College of St. Scholastica before the end of the first quarter on Saturday, but the Saints responded with 25 unanswered points to win the game 25-14 at Reynolds Field. The Eagles were able to gain early momentum with three forced turnovers in the first half, but after a pair of early scores, that momentum started to fade as the Saints went to work.

Everything seemed to be going Northwestern's way early on. Eagles linebacker Kevin Langmade (Prescott, Wis./Prescott) intercepted St. Scholastica's Tyler Harper on the Saints' third play of the game and it was Langmade who got the opportunity to put the cherry on top of the Purple's sundae with his point-after kick when Jacob Fletcher(Moorhead, Minn./Park Christian) found Daniel Schultz (Eden Prairie, Minn.) in the end zone. The UNW sideline erupted again just a few minutes later as the Eagles' DJ Pyle(Tamarac, Fla./Calvary Christian) forced Harper to fumble, giving Northwestern the ball back on the CSS 23-yard line. The Eagles needed just a minute and 20 seconds to find the end zone again, this time on a passing connection from Fletcher to Caleb Couwenhoven (Blaine, Minn./Fridley). Langmade's second PAT kick sailed through the uprights to bump the home team's lead up to 14-0.

Things couldn't get much better for Northwestern as the Saints were forced to punt on their next drive after going three-and-out, having not been able to complete more than three plays in any drive yet. But The Eagles' booster button had run low on steam as Jacob Fettig (Waconia, Minn.)'s rush on third-and-one went for a loss instead of a gain, making Northwestern punt for the first time all game.

UNW, which entered the game ranked first in the UMAC in rushing defense, continued to keep St. Scholastica contained, but the Eagles were finding themselves lined up against the Saints offense more frequently. St. Scholastica finally found the end zone four minutes into the second quarter, when Cory Gebhard beat his defender on a hitch-and-go route as Harper threw a 70-yard scoring pass to put the Saints on the board.

Neither team was able to cross the goal line the rest of the half, and UNW led 14-7 at the break.

St. Scholastica, who deferred possession to the second half at the pregame coin toss, made good on that first offensive run of the third quarter, using 15 plays to drive 65 yards down the field for Harper's second touchdown completion of the game to Gebhard to tie the game.

While the Saints continued to gain momentum, Northwestern wasn't able to produce much on the offensive side of the ball. Fletcher was intercepted by Alec French on the Eagles' ensuing drive, followed by a three-and-out and a UNW fumble on its own goal line that went out of bounds for a safety, handing St. Scholastica two points and the lead.

Things started to get out of hand as the Northwestern defense continued to be on the field. On offense, UNW saw the field for less than seven minutes throughout the entire second half, while the Saints posted double-digit minutes in both the third and fourth quarters, leading to another touchdown and a Mike Theismann 20-yard field goal to cap off a 25-14 comeback.

The 13-minute difference in time of possession allowed CSS to run 17 more plays on offense. While Northwestern held the Saints to an average rush of 2.7 yards, Harper burned the Eagles for 254 yards through the air.

After rushing for 128 or more yards in each of the last three games, UNW's Josh Sinnen (Waconia, Minn./Waconia) was held to 50 yards on 14 carries, with Zac Cash(Highlands Ranch, Colo. /Mountain Vista ) adding 47 yards in 11 tries. Fletcher had a career-low 37 percent completion percentage as his nine completions yielded a mere 95 yards.

Both Valentine Awasom (Coon Rapids, Minn./Blaine) and Cameron Cox (Becker, Minn./Becker) had 10 tackles for Northwestern, combining for three tackles for a loss. Cox forced one of the early-game fumbles while recovering another one.

Now 3-3 overall (3-2 UMAC), Northwestern will try to regroup on Monday for another big test in Week 7 as the Eagles will take their longest road trip of the season next Saturday, Oct. 19, when they face Greenville College. With a win over MacMurray on Saturday, the Panthers remain tied atop the league standings with St. Scholastica. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Greenville, Ill. 

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